No. 19 Kentucky 8-0 after gritty Virginia Tech win


Alexandre LeBlanc and Liam Draxl celebrate in doubles competition versus Virginia Tech.IMAGE OBTAINED FROM UK ATHLETICS. PHOTO BY GRACE BRADLEY.

Hunter Shelton

After a clean sweep in their doubleheader against Dayton on Wednesday, the No. 19 ranked UK men’s tennis team welcomed in fellow Power Five opponent Virginia Tech to the Hilary J. Boone Tennis Complex.  

Coming off their first win, the Hokies looked to make it two in a row in what was only their third match of the year. They’d put up a strong fight, and give Kentucky its first meeting with adversity, but it wouldn’t be enough.

Per usual, the Cats started out strong in doubles play. Sophomore duo Alexandre Leblanc and Liam Draxl were first to finish on court three, defeating Mitch Harper and Matthis Ross 6-1.  

Kentucky would then win the doubles point thanks to its top tandem. Gabriel Diallo and Cesar Bourgois, undefeated in couples play, took down Jordan Chrysostom and Alex Ribiero 6-3. The point was UK’s eighth-straight of the doubles variety to start the season.   

Diallo was first to claim victory in singles for Big Blue, beating Ribiero 6-2, 6-1.  

Draxl, the nation’s No. 45 singles player, made it 3-0 Cats by dispatching Carlo Donato on court one 6-2, 6-1. It appeared UK was on its way to yet another dominant performance, but the Hokies wouldn’t go down easily.  

Virginia Tech cracked the scoring column on court two, as Ross outlasted Wildcat senior Millen Hurrion 6-4, 6-4. The loss was Hurrion’s first of the campaign in singles.  

Tech then made it 3-2 following a grueling 3-set match where Hugo Maia, the Hokies only undefeated singles player, prevailed over No. 123 Joshua Lapadat 3-6, 6-1, 7-5. Before you could blink, Kentucky’s lead was down to one and the match would be decided in the last two singles matches.  

Fortunately for the Cats, they still had their top dog in play. Bourgois, who’s not unfamiliar with closing out the show, did so again for his squad. He battled and overcame Alvaro Ariza 7-6 (7-4,) 7-5 to wrap up UK’s eighth victory in eight tries. The fifth-year team captain out of Paris remained undefeated himself with the gutsy performance.  

Yasha Zemel added a feather in the Wildcat cap, completing a two-set victory over Ryan Fishback 6-4, 7-6 to end the three-and-a-half-hour bout 5-2 in Kentucky’s favor. 

The Cats return to action Sunday afternoon, when they will face Hokie conference brethren Duke. The Blue Devils will be looking to get back on the winning path after a 4-0 loss to Tennessee, while UK will be going for a spotless 9-0 start. The match is set to begin at 12:00 p.m. E.T. inside the Hilary J. Boone Tennis Complex.